Northern Illinois (11-12) at Akron (16-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 15, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: James A. Rhodes Arena (5,500) -- Akron, Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: NIU 6-7, Akron 9-1. Away Record: NIU 5-5, Akron 6-5. Neutral Record: NIU 0-0, Akron 1-2. Conference Record: NIU 5-6, Akron 8-3. Series Record: Akron leads, 20-9.
GAME NOTES: Coming off a slight stumble, the Akron Zips will try to return to form when they take on the Northern Illinois Huskies in a Mid-American Conference clash at James A. Rhodes Arena.
Northern Illinois is suddenly hot, with wins in four of its last five games, including a resounding 88-63 triumph over Central Michigan on Wednesday. The Huskies are within a game of the .500 level both overall (11-12) and in conference (5-6). They will return home to host Eastern Michigan next.
Akron failed to score in the final minute en route to a 57-54 loss to Western Michigan on Wednesday. The loss snapped a two-game win streak for the Zips, who are still in the mix at the top of the MAC standings, tied with Buffalo for first place in the East Division (8-3). They are gearing up for a critical game with the Bulls in their next outing.
The Zips have won each of the last two meetings with the Huskies, as they get set to face off for the first and only time this season. Akron also leads the all-time series, 20-9.
Darrell Bowie scored 19 points and added eight rebounds to lead four players in double figures, as Northern Illinois ran over Central Michigan. The Huskies hit a blistering 57.7 percent from the field and owned an incredible 39-19 advantage on the glass.
Northern Illinois is not a team that is expected to have such hot shooting nights often. The Huskies are last in the MAC in field goal percentage (.395) as well as scoring (63.3 ppg) and assists (8.7 apg). They have done better work on the glass, however, leading the conference in rebounding (37.6 rpg). Bowie (9.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg) amounts to the leading scorer for the Huskies, who do not feature a player averaging in double figures. Bowie could stand to improve his shooting, as he is netting only 36.7 percent from the floor. Travon Baker (9.2 ppg, .364 FG percentage) could also be scoring better with improved efficiency.
Akron was tied with Western Michigan, 54-54, with just over a minute to play in regulation. However, the Zips missed their only two field goal attempts in the last minute, while the Broncos got three free-throws to fall. In total, the Zips only hit on 33.3 percent from the floor.
For Akron, the offensive end of the court has not been its strength. The Zips are netting just 68.2 ppg, while shooting only 42.9 percent from the field. However, they have managed to be one of the contenders in the MAC by tightening up on defense, letting up 66 ppg on 42.4 percent shooting. Demetrius Treadwell (14.1 ppg, 8.8 rpg) leads the way on offense and the glass. In fact, no other player nets more than 4.5 rpg. Quincy Diggs (12.2 ppg) is the only other contributor in double figures. Treadwell tallied 16 points and 12 rebounds on Wednesday, while Diggs had nine points on just 3- of-13 from the floor.
Akron is very much alive in the MAC title chase. Northern Illinois may be an improved unit from the one the Zips faced last year, but not enough to top a team that is 9-1 in league play.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Akron 72, Northern Illinois 61
02/15 10:48:01 ET